Councillor-elect Mary Fragedakis may be a new face at city hall, but she’s fairly familiar one in the community she will represent beginning Dec. 1.
“I’ve lived my whole life in ward 29,” said the new Toronto-Danforth rep. “My friends, family and neighbours are here. I started the Broadview Community Youth Group because of the lack of affordable programs. I understand the context of the area.”
And Fragedakis arguably made history on election night, introduced at her victory celebration as the first woman of Greek background to win a seat on council.
She captured over 41 percent of the vote, beating out runner-up Jane Pitfield and five other candidates.
Her win is also a win for the local New Democrat influence in the area, which had been pushing to capture this council seat. They came close in the 2006 election when they backed Diane Alexopoulos, who was only 20 votes behind veteran councillor Case Ootes.
This time, Fragedakis got huge support from New Democrat-heavy hitters Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton and provincial reps Michael Prue and Peter Tabuns.
“It is people like Michael Prue, who was mayor of East York and the most-loved mayor of East York who endorsed me,” she said. “It was respected people like Jack Layton and Peter Tabuns. Yes absolutely, I can’t say it didn’t help to have their support.”
But, she also reached out to people across political spectrums, she says, including residents who had worked with her on local issues over the years.
It also didn’t hurt that longtime incumbent Case Ootes didn’t seek re-election, leaving the race wide open.
“I spoke with Case (Ootes) a few days after the election. He congratulated me and I congratulated him on heading up (Rob Ford’s) transition team. I asked for my own transition meeting,” she said Nov. 11. “We set up an appointment and met last week and talked about various issues in the ward.”
It’s all part and parcel of her preparation to take office.
Once there, Fragedakis said she’ll continue to advocate for her community.
She said she’s not worried city sport grants will be under threat when Rob Ford takes over as mayor and looks for budget savings.
The group she co-founded offers various programs including sports for East York kids. It relies on grants from various levels government, including the municipality.
“I will advocate for that and keep that going. The mayor with his deep roots (as a volunteer coach) in high school football programs. I can’t imagine he’ll cut (grants),” she said.
Fragedakis said she’ll also rely on her nine years of experience running a marketing and advertising business.
“I know how to balance a budget,” she said.
Fragedakis said a big focus of her campaign was increased consultation with constituents. This was a big issue in the area recently, when the TTC gave local residents about a month’s notice before a vote on possible expropriation of homes to build second exits at Greenwood and Donlands stations.
During the election Fragedakis sent communication updates to residents about this issue, and wrote to the TTC to get the item on the agenda to allow for public deputations.
Apart from community involvement, she said another factor in her win was good old fashion door knocking.
“Even though I registered last of the candidates, I started canvassing ahead of everyone else,” Fragedakis said. “I started Victoria Day weekend and by Labour Day I had knocked on every door. I went back a second and third time.”
On election night, former councillor Jane Pitfield came second with 27.9 percent. Jennifer Wood got 24 percent, Chris Caldwell received 5 percent. John Richardson and Mike Restivo both received less than one percent of the vote.
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